Digital Amps vs Solid State Amps!!!!!!!!

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by terence, May 21, 2003.

  1. terence

    terence Supporting Actor

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    I would like to know what you guys think of this new digital revolution in the AVR world? Do you think we will gain benefit's over traditional amps? What are the pros & cons? Hk & SONY are bringing these new products out IMO i think it might be too soon to launch a whole line almost of pure digita AVR's. I think HK is taking baby steps toward this by releasing one model, so let's get these opinions & thoughts going.
     
  2. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Pioneer and Sony both have digital amps in AVRs for the past year, and Panasonic is bring 2 models out (their 2 top models) with digital amps. The Panasonic models have no vents on the top, but have a tiny fan on the back panel.
     
  3. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    A wise man once said, it's tough to go wrong with buying receivers (and power amps) based on weight as one of the more important criteria. I personally would not buy a digital amp until someone like Stereophile reviews it. I.e., with measurements. Oh wait. They did! The PS Audio HCA (or something). And, in fact, they said it sounded OK, but they actually put in print that they were disappointed with how it measured. And PS Audio is a high end manufacturer! IMO, a heck of a lot more likely that a piece of gear that measures well will perform well too, vs a piece of gear that doesn't measure well. But that's me. [​IMG] *Y* MMV...
     
  4. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

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  5. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well how about the $15,000 integrate amp from Sharp that was reviewed here:
    http://www.stereophile.com/showarchives.cgi?253

    As far as weight goes there are people who use metrics such as pounds/amp and variants like that (Odyssey comes to mind) as a measuring stick. In fact, there are several asian companies who strictly make cases whose sole purpose is weight and thickness of the faceplate. Of course if the amp is generating significant amounts of heat then you'll need appropriate heat sinks to dissipate it. That or fans.

    Myself, I think we're fast approaching the time when we'll have 100 watt/channel 5.1 or better sound cards for a hundred or so.
     
  6. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Well besides PS Audios HCA-2, there is also the Bel Canto Evo series of amps based on Tripath digital amplifiers, and there's the Spectron amplifiers as well.

    There are others out there too, which are harder to find in the US, like A-R-T or something like that, made in Germany, and even "way high end" manufacturer Halcro is working on a multi-channel digital amplifier.

    I've heard the Sharp integrated and the Bel Canto amplifiers and I was more impressed with the Bel Cantos -- I'm really hoping that I'll be able to get a Spectron in to play with at some point in time.

    I know that my Cinepro 3K6, Series III is the last analog amplifier I will purchase. Whatever I get to replace this amp will be digital.


    Regards,
     
  7. Craig_Kg

    Craig_Kg Supporting Actor

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    Maybe 2nd hand analog amps will end up being bargains like 2nd hand CRT projectors :b
     
  8. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I've always wanted to get a Bryston 3b-sst for $500, and a 9b-sst for $1000... [​IMG]
     
  9. Joe Tilley

    Joe Tilley Supporting Actor

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    The new HK digital receiver that is now out is a big piece of crap. I don't know what the model # is but this thing sounds terrible. We just got them in at work a few days ago & I couldn't keep from wonting to laugh at the pile of junk. The remote to the thing is just ridiculous, its so damn big & ugly, not to mention that it smells horrible from the rubber coating they put on it. The unit its self is a nice looking piece, but for a $1200 receiver you would think it would be a little more beefy. And the sound of it is just plan sick. We thought something was wrong when we first gave it a run through. At high volume it produces a very loud screeching sound through the speakers, what sounds like a half dead tweeter making its last effort to play. Im assuming it it the amps clipping, as we tried several different speakers & sources with the same results
    every time.
    I don't know if its just something with this model HK or the Digital design but either way [​IMG] [​IMG] to HK
     
  10. Seth_L

    Seth_L Screenwriter

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    I'm told by someone in the "business" that Sony's upcoming digital ES recievers use very good commercially available digital modules that sound great in some of the other more expensive products that use the same modules.
     
  11. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    I think there's some merit in what Joe is saying. I'm not so sure if it's clipping per se or some odd behavior that occurs towards the latter part of the the receiver or amp's power ratings.

    Take a look at this Stereophile link and mosey on down to Figure 10. That figure looks at distortion as a function of frequency into different loads (8, 4, 2 ohms). Now the BelCanto is stated by the manufacturer as being a 120 watt unit (8 ohms). However if you look at the curve, it rather abruptly ends at around 90 watts. Peculiar don't you think?

    BelCanto uses the Tripath chip and that chip is also licenced to Sony. Offhand I don't recall who else (Sharp I think) is also using it. If you're curious as to how Tripath is doing as a company, this is a summary of their Nasdaq performance.

    The performance of this class of amps is still not well understood and may well perform differently depending on the speaker load they're presented with. I think Joe's comments are spot on and I would not recommend these receivers unless I knew damned well I was going to be operating the amp not to exceed something like 60 or 70% of the rated power. Put me down for 'not ready for prime time'. Maybe in a couple of years.
     
  12. Adil M

    Adil M Supporting Actor

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    Joe,
    I believe we have the same ears. I was really disappointed in the HK digital receiver. It sounds like nothing special at low volumes and listening to highs and people's voices at loud volumes is just painful. The HK 525 is a much better buy for less, even though they actually cost CC the same amount.. hehe.
     
  13. Joe Tilley

    Joe Tilley Supporting Actor

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    Adil, thats another thing I don't under stand is the cost issue. Seeing as they do cost the same to get them into the store but the digital costing more in the end. The only feature I like on the new receiver that the 525 doesn't have is the gold plated connections. But that in no way would justify the $200 hike for an inferior product to the 525. It really disappointed all of us at work when we had to move the 525 out of our audio room to be replaced by this thing. Being that the store Im in is the second smallest CC store we only have one room for demoing & the 525 was a very nice unit to have for it. Now no one likes to do demos at all cause this receiver sounds so sick.
     
  14. terence

    terence Supporting Actor

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    I had a chance to stop by CC today after work and demo the new digital AVR from HK. The demo disc was The Eagles HFO DTS concert dvd. It sounded like [email protected]! It sounded like we were in a aluminum can, sort pingy if that is a word. Switch over to the 525 ahhh what a difference, the 525 smoked the digital AVR. I hope the future digital amps will sound better than what i heard.
     
  15. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Wow, even I'm surprised by what y'all are saying about the new H/K... I kinda suspected digital amps couldn't compete with class A, A/B, but I expected it to be a closer contest...

    Not yet ready for prime time I guess! [​IMG]
     
  16. Seth_L

    Seth_L Screenwriter

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    Don't count your chickens before their hatched.

    I'm not sure what HK did, but don't expect Sony to do the same. They have a unique habit of revolutionizing industries. I had a nice chat with someone designing a digital Outlaw 7700 beater. I discussed with him how the last digital amps thread went on here. Specifically to the point of how everyone is writing them off despite having never heard one claiming they'll suck. He laughed and said, "I wouldn't bet on it."

    I'll wait to hear it before I pass judgement.
     
  17. JimPeitersen

    JimPeitersen Second Unit

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    Guys,
    I know the discussion seemed to revolve around receivers, but don't discount solid designs. My "old" Soundstream DA-2 (which I believe is based on Stewart amp designs) would arguably compete with many high-end class AB amps. I remember hearing and old Infinity switching amp that didn't sound bad at all. I've heard the Spectron amps, and if I had the spare money I would consider them. The newer NHT amps also sound very good. Like anything, it seems to be the design and implementation of this new class of amps rather than inherent problems with the technology. Just my .02
    JP
     
  18. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    You could be right Jim. I personally don't think it's bad technology, simply evolving technology.
     
  19. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    I wish someone here would buy one of those Panasonic digital-amp receivers & write a review of it; this competitive price range is where such an amp is needed (from a manufacturers point of view). Panasonic sold the first digital-amp receiver I personally know of, the SA-XR10, but I never read anything about it. Why are people so embarrassed to admit they own a Panasonic or Technics component???

    Panasonic receivers

    Remember, digital amps are extremely efficient so don't need a large power supply like a conventional amp does. Hence that H/K receiver not weighing very much.

    Here's a high-end digital amp manufacturer: TacT Audio

    I don't much about digital amplifiers, but maybe when they are pushed into overload they don't do this gradually like regular amps (or especially tube amps) do. Instead, maybe they very quickly produce distortion, accounting for the nasty sound that H/K was said to have produced at loud levels? I've read that analog-to-digital converters sound really ugly real fast when overloaded.

    Also, one question to the digital brainiacs out there: that Panasonic said it was ready for dvd-audio. What kind of sampling rate--if any--does a digital amp use? Can they properly handle a hi-res analog signal?

    LJ
     
  20. Craig_Kg

    Craig_Kg Supporting Actor

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    Has anyone tried one of the Sony HTiB digital amps with 'normal' speakers? This might give us an idea of what to expect.

    Apparently, the LF output filters make the Tripath type amps very impedance sensitive at the upper frequencies.
     

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